According to an article just out from Discover Magazine, research is being done to figure out ways to use electromagnetic energy to somehow "tweak" your brain so you can get by with 4 hours of sleep per night.
While I like the concept, I don't want to be an early adopter of this technology. Consider this, from the article:
"The technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation, involves an electromagnetic coil that emits pulses of skull-penetrating, neuron-activating magnetic energy. Depending on where the wand is and how fast it pulses, TMS can play all kinds of tricks. It can make a thumb twitch, create the illusion of a flash of light, or even treat depression. Neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin set out to see if TMS could switch on certain sleep phases."
I want to find out more about the long-term effects of this, and certainly don't want to get involved while it's still in the "tweaking and tuning" phase of development. The article mentions that the device is still quite large, so I don't think there's any danger of a forced sleep mode on your iPod any time soon.
The technology looks like it could have beneficial uses, once perfected (follow some of the links in the article for more). Of course, I can also envision not-so-beneficial uses of a technology that can make your body move uncontrollably - think "Taser without the wires" - I'm not ready for that!